Houston Harbaugh, P.C.
Houston Harbaugh, P.C.

Three Gateway Center
401 Liberty Ave.
22nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1005

Phone: 412-281-5060
Fax: 412-281-4499
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Insurance Archives

District Court Enforces International Arbitration Provision against "Follow Form" Excess Carrier, Clarifies Standard of Review under Federal Arbitration Act

Victims' Estates Could Not Recover Underinsured Motorist Insurance Benefits After A Single-Car Accident Involving Tortfeasor Driving Vehicle Owned By Victim

Pennsylvania Superior Court Holds That Insurer Cannot Enforce Subrogation Rights in Independent Suit Against Third Party in Workers Compensation Claim

In Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., v. Domtar Paper Co., No. 1052 WDA 2012, 2013 PA Super 262 (September 27, 2013), the Pennsylvania Superior Court examined the issue of whether Section 319 of the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act, codified at 77 P.S. ยง671, provides an independent cause of action for insurers to directly sue third parties.

Middle District of Pennsylvania Finds Documents Properly Withheld When Counsel Acted as Coverage Counsel, not as Claims Adjuster

In Walter v. Travelers Personal Ins. Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72771 (M.D. Pa., May 22, 2013) (opinion by J. M.C. Carlson), the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that "coverage counsel was, in fact, serving the client in an attorney-client capacity, and not in some other functionshutterstock_130099715xsmall.jpg such as a business advisor or claims adjuster." As a result, the court ruled that documents were properly withheld by an insurance company under the attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine.

Pennsylvania Insurance Law 101--Insurance Company's Responsibilities Under a Liability Insurance Policy: Duty to Defend and Duty to Indemnify

An insurance company's responsibilities to its insureds are defined by the insurance contract, statutes and regulations. Case law further refines an insurer's duties. The primary responsibilities of the insurer defined by the insurance contract are the duty to defend and the duty to indemnify.BrandonMcCullough--Insurance Blog Photo 2.jpg

Pennsylvania Superior Court Issues Significant Ruling Regarding Insurer's Duty To indemnify Unauthorized Settlement Made By Insured Being Defended Under A Reservation Of Rights

In what is certainly going to prove to be a significant decision that affects the landscape for insurers and insureds alike, the Pennsylvania Superior Court recently issued an opinion addressing the legal standard to be applied when evaluating an insurer's duty to indemnify an insured for an unauthorized settlement made by the insured while being defended under a reservation of rights. In Babcock & Wilcox Co. v. Am. Nuclear Insurers & Mut. Atomic Energy Liab. Underwriters, 2013 Pa. Super. LEXIS 1630 at *6-7 (Pa. Super. June 10, 2013), the court was called on to decide whether the settlement should be evaluated under the "bad faith" standard articulated in Cowden v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co., 134 A.2d 223 (Pa. 1957), or the "fair and reasonable" standard formulated in Alfiero v. Berks Mutual Leasing Co., 500 A.2d 169 (Pa. Super. 1985).

Will The U.S. Supreme Court's Decision In Hillman v. Maretta Impact Pennsylvania?

In its recent decision in Hillman v. Maretta, the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether a state law providing for the automatic revocation of a beneficiary designation in the event of divorce was preempted by a federal law providing for the enforcement of a beneficiary designation under a federal life insurance policy. 133 S. Ct. 1943, 1945 (June 3, 2013). Specifically, the Virginia state law at issue provided that a former spouse who recovers "death benefits" in violation of the statute was personally liable to the person to whom the benefits should have been paid. Id. at 1948. In effect, the Virginia law redirected to whom the benefits should be paid without regard to insured's beneficiary designation.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Holds Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) Does Not Guarantee Right to Jury Trial

In Fazio v. Guardian Life Insurance Co., 62 A.3d 396 (Pa. Super. 2012), Plaintiffs purchased various life insurance policies from Guardian Life Insurance over the course of four years. Subsequently, their investment advisor suggested lessshutterstock_26396608small.jpg expensive term life insurance and referred Fazio to an attorney who advised stopping payments on the Guardian Life policies. The attorney then wrote to Guardian alleging the Fazios had been deceived and demanded a refund of all premium payments. In 2001 the Fazios filed suit and Judge R. Stanton Wettick handled the litigation for the next nine years. In 2010, the Fazios requested a jury trial which was denied by Judge Wettick. The case was then transferred for a non-jury trial in which the court found that the Fazios had not proven their case by a preponderance of the evidence and Guardian was therefore, not liable.